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CD Review

Carl Nielsen

Symphonies #2 & 3

  • Symphony #2 "The Four Temperaments"
  • Symphony #3 "Espansiva"
Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Michael Schønwandt
DaCapo 8.224126 71m DDD
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Nielsen's 'Espanisva' begins exultantly and excitingly with hammer blows almost arresting the listener from the start and immediately putting the orchestra on its toes. Schønwandt and the DNRSO have the music in their bones and the resulting First Movement sails through with exemplary vigour. Comparing it to Bostock's recent account on Classico, I felt that the Danish group comes out on top (only just) especially in the dream sound world of the Second Movement marked Andante pastorale with the wordless voices of Inger Dam-Jensen and Poul Elming quite ethereally magical. Schønwandt and the DNRSO also sail convincingly through the Third Movement where the elements of Nielsen's progressive tonality are already quite strongly felt. The Finale is also quite successful, rather similarly plotted as in Tuxen's powerful 1946 recording for Decca, which remains the prime recommendation for this work.

Da Capo place the Second Symphony last on disc thus leaving Nielsen's refreshing thoughts on man's four temperaments as a thoughtful makeweight. There is not much to criticize either here excepting a perhaps too relaxed Allegro comodo e flemmatico and some thin strings in the Andante malincolico but on the whole, Schønwandt's reading is perfectly acceptable. Bostock and Jensen are perhaps more carefree in their approach but I must not forget Launy Grondahl's stately live relay preserved for posterity on Danacord which is roughly very similar in tempi to this newcomer. As in the previous disc, notes and recordings are exceptional and no lover's of this important composer should be without these well presented and ultimately quite authoritative issues.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech